Health Team

Trailblazing surgeon encourages Raleigh kids to stay in school

Posted September 20, 2012 5:30 p.m. EDT
Updated September 22, 2012 10:29 a.m. EDT

— Trailblazing surgeon Dr. Benjamin Carson recently visited Raleigh as part of a nationwide effort encouraging children to read, stay in school and take control of their destiny.

"What I have found is that those young people who are readers early on tend to be very successful academically," said Carson, a pediatric neurosurgeon at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore.

In 1987, he led a team of surgeons in an operation to separate conjoined twins. He is the author of several books, including "Gifted Hands," which was made into a movie starring Cuba Gooding Jr. in 2009.

Like many of the children he visited at Heritage Park Community Learning Center in Raleigh, Carson came from a disadvantaged background, but he knew that education was the ticket to success. To give other children that chance, he started a national scholarship program for high-risk students.

He tells students that they are the only ones in charge of their futures.

"Once you decide that someone else is in charge and you're a victim, you're toast," he said.

Carson said he believes too many children are misdiagnosed with attention deficit disorder when their problem is simply spending too much time in front of video screens.

"It's just that their brain is on high-speed mode all the time," he said. "And what I tell parents all the time is, 'Wean the kids off some of that stuff and spend quality time with them with a book.'"

Carson plans to retire from the operating room next year, but will remain active with the Carson Scholars Fund.